09/22/2004 11:00PM

Cryptograph sitting on big race

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Cryptograph is quietly coming into Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs as a threat to favorites Imperialism and Borrego.

He has been working much sharper than usual. He won a stakes at the Super Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles in his last start. And he has been purposely freshened for the race by a barn that wins at an above-average rate with its layoff horses. He should be ready for a peak race.

has worked two bullets since winning the $100,000 Round Table at Arlington Park on July 17. He went six furlongs in 1:13.80 on Aug. 30, and five furlongs in 59 seconds Sept. 6. Both of those drills came at Arlington. He worked one more time there, in 47.40 on Sept. 13, before vanning to Louisiana Downs on Sept. 14.

"It's a long ship down from Arlington, so we backed off a little bit on the [work] schedule over [last] weekend," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Cryptograph for Pin Oak Stable.

Von Hemel waited until Wednesday for Cryptograph's final work, which was intended to give him a feel for Louisiana Downs. The sometimes-playful Cryptograph went four furlongs in 48.60 seconds.

"The way he's been working, he's wanting to work, and with him, it's good news," said Von Hemel.

Cryptograph will return from a two-month freshening for the Super Derby. The last time he returned from a layoff of similar length he won a one-mile allowance at Oaklawn Jan. 23. Overall, he has won 5 of 9 starts, with his biggest win coming in the Round Table.

The time off after that race was designed to rest him for a fall campaign that includes the Super Derby and possibly the Grade 3, $250,000 Lone Star Derby on Oct. 29, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Oklahoma Derby on Nov. 21.

"We wanted to have a horse that would be ready to compete in those three races," said Von Hemel. "If we had continued to race after Arlington, we would have had to ship back East to do it. It made sense to back off a little and have him ready for the three races in our region."

Beau's Town eyes Breeders' Cup

Beau's Town will be entered in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park if he continues to work as well as he did the other morning at Louisiana Downs, said his owner, Dave Hulkewicz. Beau's Town lost some training time this summer with an intestinal virus, so he will not be rushed to get a prep race in for the Sprint.

Instead, he will continue to work at Louisiana Downs - where he went four furlongs in 48.20 seconds Sept. 18. Hulkewicz is hopeful Beau's Town, who has raced just four times this year, will be selected as part of the field for the BC Sprint.

Beau's Town is a perfect in two starts at Lone Star, where he set a track record for six furlongs earlier this year when he won the $75,000 Ford Express in 1:07.80. Following the Ford Express, Beau's Town ran second in the Grade 3 Aristides and was unplaced while shooting for his second win in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar.

Hulkewicz views that race as a throw-out, because Beau's Town never got near the lead - where he likes to run - in the Bing Crosby. Overall, the horse has won 11 of 19 starts and $581,330.

* Steven Crist, publisher of Daily Racing Form, will be at Louisiana Downs on Saturday to give a handicapping seminar and sign copies of his book "Betting on Myself." The book signing starts at noon in the main lobby of the racing building.

* The Super Derby will be shown on ESPN next year, during the "Road to the Breeders' Cup," series, said Ray Tromba, vice president of racing operations for Harrah's Louisiana Downs. The race was last telecast on ESPN in 2000.